The world is on track for 2.4 degrees Celsius of warming above pre-industrial levels, if not more, according to a new analysis – despite countries’ new and updated climate pledges, including those made at the COP26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland.
The watchdog Climate Action Tracker (CAT) warned on Tuesday that global greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 will still be roughly twice as high as what’s necessary to limit warming to 1.5 degrees — a threshold scientists have said the planet should stay under to avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis.
The net-zero goals of 40 countries account for 85% of global emissions cuts, but the group found only 6% of those emissions were backed up by concrete plans.
“It’s all very well for leaders to claim they have a net zero target, but if they have no plans as to how to get there, and their 2030 targets are as low as so many of them are, then frankly, these net zero targets are just lip service to real climate action,” said Bill Hare, CEO of Climate Analytics, in a statement. “Glasgow has a serious credibility gap.”
“We know that the window to keep 1.5 degrees alive is closing but the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is clear that it is still achievable,” a COP26 spokesperson said in a statement. “As today’s reports make clear, we’ve seen genuine progress in the first week of COP26, but we have a lot more to do. We need to be serious about both ambition and action this decade and that is why as COP26 Presidency, we are pushing hard through negotiations this week to build on progress to keep 1.5 degrees in reach.”
Delegates from around the world are gathering at COP26 to attempt to limit the climate crisis. While there were several breakthroughs in the first week of negotiations, experts warned the deals may not meet the urgency of the moment – specifically, that they won’t bring the world closer to limiting warming to 1.5 degrees.
“There’s a lot of big statements, which don’t have the details underneath: exactly when, how much, who’s going to do what,” said Helen Mountford, vice president for climate and economics with the World Resources Institute.
More than 130 countries that represent more than 85% of the planet’s forests pledged last week to end and reverse deforestation and land degradation by 2030, in what was seen as the first big deal of the COP26 summit. When destroyed, forests can emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The agreement included some of the world largest carbon stocks locked away in tropical forests.
In another breakthrough, more than 25 countries have so far signed on to an agreement to stop financing fossil fuel projects abroad. But critics say it doesn’t go far enough and should include financing for fossil fuel projects at home, not just internationally.
Christine Shearer, the program director for coal at Global Energy Monitor, called the deal “a game changer,” but stressed that fossil fuel projects must be stopped within these countries’ own borders, too.
Under current policies – not proposals, but rather what countries are actually doing – CAT projects global temperatures to climb to 2.7 degrees.
If all net-zero pledges are fully implemented, CAT reported the most optimistic scenario would be warming of 1.8 degrees, which would require bold and rapid action by 2030. Still, countries’ climate targets for 2030 remain inadequate, according to the analysis.
CNN’s Angela Dewan contributed to this report.